"Good morrow, my lord!" in the sky alone
Sang the lark as the sun ascended his throne.
"Shine on me, my lord: I only am come,
Of all your servants, to welcome you home!
I have shot straight up, a whole hour, I swear,
To catch the first gleam of your golden hair."
"Must I thank you then," said the king, "sir Lark,
For flying so high and hating the dark?
You ask a full cup for half a thirst:
Half was love of me, half love to be first.
Some of my subjects serve better my taste:
Their watching and waiting means more than your haste."
King Sun wrapt his head in a turban of cloud;
Sir Lark stopped singing, quite vexed and cowed;
But higher he flew, for he thought, "Anon
The wrath of the king will be over and gone;
And, scattering his head-gear manifold,
He will change my brown feathers to a glory of gold!"
He flew, with the strength of a lark he flew,
But as he rose the cloud rose too;
And not one gleam of the flashing hair
Brought signal of favour across the air;
And his wings felt withered and worn and old,
For their feathers had had no chrism of gold.
Outwearied at length, and throbbing sore,
The strong sun-seeker could do no more;
He faltered and sank, then dropped like a stone
Beside his nest, where, patient, alone,
Sat his little wife on her little eggs,
Keeping them warm with wings and legs.
Did I say alone? Ah, no such thing!
There was the cloudless, the ray-crowned king!
"Welcome, sir Lark!--You look tired!" said he;
"Up is not always the best way to me:
While you have been racing my turban gray,
I have been shining where you would not stay!"
He had set a coronet round the nest;
Its radiance foamed on the wife's little breast;
And so glorious was she in russet gold
That sir Lark for wonder and awe grew cold;
He popped his head under her wing, and lay
As still as a stone till king Sun went away.